Mutated Sewer Alligators. I dare you, I triple-dog-dare you, to read that sentence and not smile and squee with glee on the inside. If you don’t burst at the seams at the thought of giant, lumbering, angry, albino alligators crawling deep below in the sewers of New York, you’re just dead inside and we can’t be friends. Seriously, take me off Snap and just go.
A lot of urban legends do this to me but few are so incredibly fun. It’s a myth with hands in both buckets. One hand a little in the fact / science / evidence bucket and the other mitt a little (alright, a lot) in the crazy / out-there / pure fiction bucket.
It has its proverbial cake while eating it in big freaky-creepy chunks.
Trust me, we could easily cheese-out on this piece. The trap is out there.
Go the way of scientific evidence, wandering subspecies and human encroachment on animal habitats and there you go. That’s the game. Go the other direction and talk about a bunch of people getting eaten on Broadway in daylight by the mole people and their pet albino gators and you’ll leave thinking we’re a bunch of nuts. Well… more than you already do.
There’s a thin line to be walked here – we’re in this together now, let’s give it a shot.
Here’s an absolute fact for you then. Gators, and all manner of wild life, routinely find themselves in our sewer systems. If this is a shock to you, I’d like to introduce you to my friend Florida. Ignore the bath salts and gaze upon the wonder that is the Everglades.
For many species like rats, mice, snakes, snapping turtles, and a few billion bugs, sewers are a variable smorgasbord of ecosystems. A good sewer system is removed from humans, provides easy transportation around town, there’s often a plentiful food source, protection from the elements and all the damp, dark, goodness a critter could possibly hope for.
But that’s NOT what we’re here for today. We’re here for the good stuff. The Giant Mutated Sewer Alligator. Big, bad and grabbing people off the damn streets. Can they exist? Where could they exist and, of course, has anyone ever actually seen one.
There’ll be no freaking cheese here today Creepers!
Can, How, Has and if so, where? Whoa…
Of course we know that gators CAN and do live in sewers. They’re regularly found and removed from systems in Florida, Louisiana and other states with even small gator populations. When left alone they usually won’t hang around for long since they have better food and water sources elsewhere.
They also need a fair bit of sun to regulate body temperatures throughout the day. Sewers are usually found in towns and cities and coming out for sun in those locations means being around people and that’s not what passes for a good time when you’re a gator.
Big city sewer system would be an even bigger challenge for the big reptiles.
By and large, they’re considered ambush predators. A successful alligator will hunt in relatively deep water and approach prey quietly or wait for it to get within striking distance. While some larger sewer systems have sizeable underground water pools, that’s not how they’re usually designed. Water is meant to flow in a sewer, destined for water purification locations or drainage. There’s not a lot of deep water spots where a Gator can ambush they’re next meal.
The amount of food a gator needs however is surprisingly well suited for sewer life. A medium sized alligator only needs to eat 6 to 8 pounds of food every 5 to 8 days. During lean times they can easily go longer than that between meals. That’s certainly a few rats, cats and turtles but not outside the realm of possibility.
The biggest challenge in a big city sewer system outside of the lower states, even for a mutated sewer alligator, would be the temperatures. American alligators tends to prefer a nice warm day that hovers between 82 and 92 degrees Fahrenheit. They can go as low at 71 degrees but any lower than that and they enter a dormant state.
Then there’s ideal egg temperatures for reproduction. The temperature of an alligator nest can directly dictate the gender of the little ones that are born. Anything under 86 degrees and 99% of the time they’ll turn out to be girls, over 93 degrees and they’ll be boys. For our mutated sewer alligators, this might make creating new generations difficult.
The average temperature of a major sewer system is somewhere around 60 degrees. In a city like New York that can vary drastically. The North-Eastern climate can fluctuate wildly with bitter cold winters and brutally hot summers. Sewers can and do fluctuate just as much, not exactly ideal for our scaly friends.
So, for our big city mutated sewer alligators to survive they’d have to adapt to a severe lack of sun, a limited, although present, food and water source and then finally deal with a completely inhospitable temperature range.
Can that happen? Well, hold on to your hoodies friends because, as it turns out, yes it can.
The alligator as a species is incredibly adaptable. A product of many years of evolutionary excellence. The American Alligator as we know it is already spreading outwards and upwards every year, gradually moving away from those Everglades. Adaptable behavior has also been seen in the Chinese Alligator who lives in cooler climates. When the Yangtze alligator gets cold it burrows under ground to keep warm and comes back up when it gets warm again.
We also have factual, well documented occurrences of mutated albino alligators. These almost-completely white gators need virtually zero sun time, their skin can’t handle it either, making them perfectly suited for a sewer type living environment. We know that the mutation is rare in alligators but no one is certain how often it happens.
This proves that, as a species, alligators would have the evolutionary capability to adapt to life in big city sewers.
A population of mutated sewer alligator would most likely need to be of the albino variety, they would have an adequate food source and they would have adapted to lower temperatures. They’d also have different hunting patterns, relying on bursts of speed or possibly hunting in packs.
So we know it can happen and we know how it would need to happen but has it, and if so, where?
Like your MeMaw would say: “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire; now go get me a pack of Luckies.”
Sure, there’s been rumors of gators in Chicago, Boston, as far north as Toronto and across the pond in London but the undisputed choice for the mutated sewer alligators is New York.
Gators have been a part of urban myths in New York since the 1920s when there were reports of gators coming out of the sewers in the winter. There’s been semi-regular captures of very real alligators in and around New York for years. Most of the time they’re found in the waterways surrounding the city, sometimes crossing a busy intersection or hanging around Long Island. They are almost always small and obviously smuggled pets that have gotten loose. It doesn’t happen enough to be a regular event but often enough that the NYPD knows what to do when they get the call of a gator being seen.
Every now and again there are other reports that come out of New York though. Sightings of large alligators with white skin and pink eyes. One report from a sewer worker says he found a small den with 5 or 6 large adults. Another person says they heard hissing coming from a sewer grate, when they inspected it they saw a large albino gator running out of the light. We’re not talking a half dozen crackpots here. There’s been a serious amount of sightings. The Bigfoot people would kill for this kind of density.
In the end, there’s yet to be a sighting though. Until someone snaps a picture or puts up a video on YouTube, the big ones are going to be a little tougher to prove.
For now we’ll just have to be happy with this Cryptid being one of the best mysteries we still have. A real urban legend, complete with mutated monsters and stories from your cousin Tony’s best friends girlfriends kid sister.
Still, whether you’re in the city or by the swamps it’s probably best you keep an eye open. One thing’s for sure, the gators are coming.